aspergers bullying

Bullying & Autistic Spectrum Disorder

Bullying is a problem for too many children, but a child on the Autistic Spectrum may be more at risk than their peers. They are also less likely to be able to make it stop, as they struggle with social communication. They might not even be able to tell those close to them. The National Autistic Society have written a guide on bullying for parents. In this post I talk about bullying and Asperger’s syndrome, as experienced by my son.anti-bullying week

Victims of Bullying generally are either:  Passive Targets – those with low self-esteem, shy, academic, on their own, smaller, weaker OR Pro-Active Targets – those with inappropriate behaviour, socially clumsy, perceived as irritating, attention-seeking and not knowing when to stop. Children on the autistic spectrum are more likely to be a target for bullies because they may be seen as different because they cannot always relate to the situation they are in – or communicate what is going on. Children who are on the Autistic Spetrum are often perceived as being low in  social status & friendship (having few friends to defend them). They are naive, gullible,  & eccentric. They are neither cool, macho or popular and are perceived as ‘soft’

I remember my oldest son crying upset that he did not want to go to school when he was only 7 years old. Now granted, he was at a new school, where he had to make new friends and the rest of the children had known each other a long time – but we’d moved a lot and he was used to this. He loved  enjoyed school and has always worked hard, so it came as a bit of a shock. This actually was one of the first big moves towards him being diagnosed as having Asperger’s Syndrome.

aspergers bullyingThings can be very black and white.

I remember my son being confused as to why he was in trouble when one of the boys told him it was “a good idea” to bend another boy’s fingers back.

Those on the Autistic Spectrum are unable to distinguish between who are bullies and who are friends. They are unable to differentiate between friendly sparring and physical attacks.

Our son often kept complaining to the teacher that he had been hit so many times that they stopped taking him seriously – they said he complained as if he had been punched when someone so much as accidentally brushed passed him. Fortunately, the school was very supportive. I went in and explained the situation and they put things in place to help him. They made break times (when he was less supervised) more structured by introducing chess club. He also had a dinner lady buddy – that if he had ANY problems (even the seemingly most trivial) he could go and speak to them. They encouraged circle time sessions where children would focus on each other’s strengths.

I hear of so many children who end up being Home educated because of bullying. Do you have a story to share about bullying and ASD? I would especially like to hear any success stories.

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30 thoughts on “Bullying & Autistic Spectrum Disorder

  1. I have thought many many times of home schooling my daughter who has ASD for this reason. It is so hard to hear and deal with bulling of your own child and as it is your job to protect them, your natural response it to remove them from the situation. The reason I haven’t is she decided herself to persevere and finish her GCSE’s at school. I hope your son has an easier time of it – it really sounds like he is being treated unfairly at his school and I hope you get the outcome you are looking for. 🙂

    1. I hope she is ok. It is good that she wont let them win. That was a long time ago now and my son is in his last year of A-levels and has a lovely group of friends.

      Biggest fear I had for my youngest but he seems to be doing well too.

  2. I am glad that the school are being supportive and are putting measures into place to help.

    Some schools can be useless when it comes to bullying

  3. My friends’ son with asd is getting bullied terribly and is very aware that he doesn’t have any friends. My own son is lucky to have never been bullied but is making wholly inappropriate friendship choices and getting into trouble as a result of being led astray. I worry about him and what will become of him as he reaches adulthood.

  4. I hope that the bullying stops for him. Children can be very cruel at times. I’m glad to hear that the school are being so supportive.

  5. Bullying shouldn’t be tolerated at all. We have some experience with it. Kids are bullied simply because they are foster kids… it can get really horrible at times. School helps to ease the situation but mostly we blame other parents and their lack of interest in their own children.

  6. So pleased to have found your website that seems as if it is full of good info that needs to be put out there.
    My teenage niece has tourettes and is on the autistic spectrum. I am very close to her and she is being bullied at school. Even though she is at a special needs school it continues to happen – again that explains why she is always so weary…. she does not know how to distinguish between a friend and a bully.
    The trouble is my sister (her mum) was also diagnosed with tourettes many years ago and her social skills when it comes to approaching the subject are not great. The school will not discuss anything with me and even though i am close with my sister she feels as if i am interfering!
    Hopefully i will find lots of useful advice amongst this bible website of yours! Thank you and well done for being an amazing and strong parent.

  7. It’s reassuring to know your son’s school put measures in place to tackle the bullying. Very sad to read some of the comments here to know so many young people are suffering.

  8. Bullying ruined my time at school and 30 years later it still effects how I think sometimes. It is shame that more isnt done to stamp it out by some schools, and great to hear that your son’s school is doing something about it.

  9. SUCH a vital post. I’m so sorry your son had to go through this. And I’m so sorry you had to go through it too. Just the toughest position as a parent and great that you’re flagging up the issue x

  10. So good to hear that the school were so supportive. I am currently working in education so this is really interesting to read…

  11. My son was bullied, by the child in the class with ASD ! He would regularly come home with bruises and torn clothes and the staff refused to do anything about it – because” he doesn’t realise he is doing it so we can’t stop him!” It was a horrid situation because the poor boy with ASD was obviously struggling with social interactions and was lashing out, I assume from frustration, and rather than help him out the staff ignored it. Eventually he was excluded because of violent behaviour – seriously let down by the system – but then they let my boy down too! I hope things have improved since then!

  12. Bullying is my worst nightmare – my son had trouble with an older girl last year and the school were less than supportive. Three trips into school and the threat of escalating is what got them to take action and in that time, although it wasn’t constant bullying, my then 8 year old wasn’t himself at all.

  13. I worry about my son being bullied, as he is socially awkward at times, and is perceived as odd by some kids at school, though currently also has a good group of friends and is much admired as a minecraft guru. Glad your boys school were so supportive, I hope more school do the same!

  14. Your sounds a good school really important that ‘free time’ has clear lines of structure and support for kids with ASDS isn’t it, free time can so easily be there most unhappy time

  15. I panicked at Mainstream about Kyd getting bullied for having Down Syndrome but luckily the kids at his school were amazing with him and his statement meant he had supervision at break times. I think it has to be closely monitored, kids are cruel but usually due to ignorance. The more the school discuss the differences of children the more they are included naturally.

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